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RIM wakes up woozy in Australia

Apple store stunt snares blogger, criticism

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Research In Motion's attempts to remind Australians that its phones can be quite useful for business have rebounded on the embattled company.

The first salvos in the campaign were fired last week, when journalists (not El Reg, as it happens) were sent black pieces of paper bearing the words “Wake Up”, but without any hint as to who sent them or why.

The same day, a black bus parked outside Sydney's Apple Store and disgorged a group of black-clad “protestors” bearing placards, which also read “Wake Up”. The team then chanted the slogan outside the shop.

Nathan Burr - a video blogger whose YouTube channel has generated many millions of views thanks to his famously blunt assessments of the information technology industry - posted a video of the protest, and said he rocked up outside the store just after the bus pulled up.

The video went viral and suspicion about the stunt's backer initially fell on Samsung, which in 2011 opened a “pop-up” store very close to the Apple Store and offered A$2 phones in an attempt to generate the same kind of fanbois-on-footpaths zeitgeist as Apple. Samsung denied any involvement.

Enthusiast site MacTalk eventually deciphered some of the DoubleClick code from the Wake Up Australia site that fingered RIM as the site's source. RIM 'fessed up to the stunt and issued a statement saying that on May 7th it will do something that “will aim to provoke conversation on what ‘being in business’ means to Australians.”

Blunty has since admitted that his presence at the Apple store was not co-incidental: RIM tipped him off and even asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement promising not to tell anyone about the event in advance. Blunty says his reason for attending was to observe the event and that he had no intention of posting about the stunt and no commercial arrangement with RIM.

The second video also points out that the first effort did not say his presence at the Apple store was serendipitous, insists there's been no damage done to his credibility and suggests that if you don't like what he did you can “bugger off.”

Marketers are not particularly impressed by the stunt, if comments on this post at Mumbrella are any indication.

RIM has since shown off version ten of its operating system, to a decidedly tepid market response.

We therefore await just what RIM has to say about “being in business in Australia”. Or maybe anywhere else. ®

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